Originally Posted by RedsManRick
I think the window has really passed for the Reds unless Votto agrees to something pretty significantly under market value. Longoria is the best case example, but I imagine it's too late to do that with Votto. Longoria's deal basically mirrors how his salary would escalate normally, except it's all about 50% of what he probably would have earned if he took it one year at a time. Plus, each of his FA years are team options, so they can opt out pretty easily at relatively little cost if he gets seriously injured or flames out.
11:$2M (arb year 1)
12:$4.5M (arb year 2)
13:$6M (arb year 3)
14:$7.5M club option ($3M buyout) (FA year 1)
15:$11M club option (FA year 2)
16:$11.5M club option (FA year 3)
Each year closer you get to the guy's free agency and the more of a track record he's built, the bigger that % becomes. For Votto, I think you'd need to offer him something like 75% of fair market value based on reasonable or slightly aggressive production projections. And at the point, the savings you'd gain are probably not worth the risk you assume by guaranteeing him that money. You also should consider the availability of certain types of talent. Votto is an excellent player, but I'm not sure he's irreplaceable. Longoria is a potential HOF 3B in no small part because of his defensive talents. He'd be much harder to replace than Votto. Making a financial commitment when you already have him under control without one doesn't strike me as a particularly smart move for a franchise that needs as much payroll flexibility as possible.
The one point I would make is that salaries are down right now and probably will be down even further after this off season. Right now a win is worth $4.4M if I recall correctly. That is down from what it was just two years ago, when it was closer to $6M a win. I think after this off season, with everyone cutting back, a win could worth as low as $2.5M.
So signing guys long term after this off season could really pan out well if the market bounces back, which history tells us it will. Votto signed at 75% of 2010 value, in 2012 could be Votto signed at 50% of value.
I also think that with Votto's problems last year, he's not as much of a known quantity as you think. He has not played a full season, which should lower his value, and make the long term contract worth it.